A decade ago I sat among a sparse crowd in the Stand 3 on York Place to watch a comedy show by someone whose Vlogs I had enjoyed. It turned out to be the best thing I had seen at that years Fringe, beating competition from Doug Stanhope, Stephen Lynch, Adam Hills and loads of other big name comedians. These days that internet funny man can sell out the largest Fringe venues weeks in advance and he’s a cult hero among fans of British comedy. As well as a short Fringe run at the New Town Theatre, Limmy appeared at Edinburgh International Book Festival for the second time to discuss his latest book That’s Your Lot.
It’s certainly an opening to a book festival event unlike any other, Limmy performing as a selection of his creations as requested by the audience. In recent years there have been press stories about ruined comedy shows, due to the audience repeatedly shouting out recognisable punch lines. By introducing the old favourites up front, any chance of the show being disrupted later is mitigated. It also cranks up the atmosphere among an already excited crowd.
Sometimes among a crowd this electric there is a danger that behaviour can get out of hand, but at this show everyone was hanging on Limmy’s every word as he settled in to read his first story of the night, Taxi Patter. The story has a darker undertone than most of the tales in his previous book, Daft Wee Stories, but laughs feature prominently and I’m sure anyone who’s a fan decided to buy the book right then if they didn’t already own it. The second story, Pavement, addresses his serious fears that his son may never be proud of him and it starts as a pretty standard story, but with an imagination like Limmy’s it certainly doesn’t finish that way and to great pay off.
Among the stories he fills us in on what inspires his writing and where some of the ideas in the book come from. Sometimes during these short discussion portions he puts on a voice that suggests he maybe doesn’t quite belong here, that his stories aren’t worthy of further discussion. He should feel assured that they are, but it adds an extra touch of humour all the same.
Almost an entire half of the show is devoted to questions from the audience. This is a brave move, to give up direction of your own show, but his faith in his fans delivers for him. From the opening question about Cumbernauld to one about his favourite characters in Limmy’s Show (it’s Dee Dee, if anyone’s wondering) he manages to get something funny out of every one of them. Often the Q&A section of book festival talks leads to some frivolous discussion, but Limmy is someone with a pretty huge comfort zone and he’s happy to tell us about offending the Producers of Charlie’s Brooker’s Weekly Wipe and his bad luck with rejected sitcom ideas. I can only hope a commission is coming soon.
At some point he discusses the potential of doing a stand up show, this time with no videos or sketches, just him and a microphone. This would be a proper escape from his comfort zone and one that his fans are already excited at the prospect of. It would be fascinating to see what could be achieved by someone with this sort of imagination. If the material doesn’t work out he certainly wouldn’t have any trouble falling back on crowd work.
Although this was a one off Book Festival event, Limmy will be appearing at the New Town Theatre from 18th – 20th August. It’s sold out, but definitely worth checking for cancellations on the day.